On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden tweeted a video accusing President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration of not giving him transition information in key national security areas. His tweet prompted a quick response from acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who noted the DoD has fulfilled hundreds of interview requests and thousands of pages of classified documents.
Biden tweeted, “Right now, my team isn’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short of irresponsible.”
In a video, Biden said, “Right now as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations. My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies. We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any windo of confusion or catch up that our adversaries may try to exploit.
“We have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense, and the Office of Management and Budget. Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” he added.
In a statement Monday evening, acting Defense Secretary Miller said, “The Department of Defense has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials, and provided over 5,000 pages of documents – far more than initially requested by Biden’s transition team.”
Miller added, “DoD’s efforts already surpass those of recent administrations with over three weeks to go and we continue to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview. Our DoD political and career officials have been working with the utmost professionalism to support transition activities in a compressed time schedule and they will continue to do so in a transparent and collegial manner that upholds the finest traditions of the Department.”
In addition to providing meetings with over 400 officials and over 5,000 pages of non-public and classified information, the DoD said it has also fulfilled 188 requests for information (RFIs) since transition efforts began on Nov. 23.
DoD spokesperson Susan Gough said, “We continue to schedule interviews with senior leaders and career officials for early January. Additionally, we will coordinate any urgent Operation Warp Speed or COVID-related requests as they arise over the holidays, as well as provide responses to RFIs specifically related to COVID-19 vaccine distribution.”
Gough said the DoD already has three interviews with the Biden team scheduled this week, two of which are COVID-19 related and one that is cybersecurity related.
Gough said the DoD will continue to provide the Biden team with access to non-public and classified information and visits to the Pentagon. She said the DoD will also work with the Agency Review Team to validate a pilot for rapidly onboarding the political appointees of a new administration and confirmation support to prospective nominees.
She said the DoD said is providing transition support despite various limitations from COVID-19 safety precautions.
The Trump administration has previously been accused of stalling the Biden team’s transition efforts, though DoD leadership has repeatedly denied claims it is delaying transition efforts. Biden’s latest claims come after Trump’s acting defense secretary halted Biden transition efforts through the remainder of the year, based on what the DoD described as a “mutually-agreed upon” pause, with plans to resume transition efforts in the new year.